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Former DA student reports sexual contact with teacher

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DEERFIELD — A former Deerfield Academy student has told the prestigious boarding school that he was subjected to “sexual contact” in the 1980s by a faculty member, the school’s leaders reported on their website Monday.

According to a letter from the Trustees President Philip Greer and Head of the School Margarita Curtis, the accused former faculty member has admitted to sexual contact with a student.

But when reached by phone and asked if he had in fact admitted to inappropriate contact, the retired teacher told The Recorder he didn’t want to comment and would “rather wait until I hire a lawyer in case I need one.”

The former faculty member, whom The Recorder has chosen not to name at this time because details of the case are unclear and no charges have been brought, said he received a letter from the academy recently stating the student lived in the same corridor of his dormitory. He said he did not know who the student was.

When asked the nature of the alleged sexual contact, the former teacher said he did not want to comment.

David Thiel, the school’s director of communications, said the school would not release any details beyond information released in the letter. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said it is not involved in the situation at this time.

Deerfield Academy is conducting an investigation of the teacher’s years at the school, retained an independent law firm to assist and has informed law enforcement authorities, the school’s letter said. The letter does not name the accuser and does not specify the nature of the contact.

“Please rest assured that we have a zero tolerance policy regarding inappropriate teacher-student relationships of any kind, and this is regularly communicated to faculty and staff ... We realize this message affects every member of the Deerfield family. Meaningful relationships between faculty and students define our community, but those relationships must be anchored in our core values — and first among them is the safety and welfare of every student. We remain fully committed to this fundamental principle and to being “worthy of our heritage,” stated Curtis and Greer in the letter.

Deerfield Academy is asking those who have been personally affected or have any information that may assist in the investigation to contact Curtis at mcurtis@deerfield.edu or 413-774-1425 or Stuart Bicknell, the school psychologist, at sbicknell@deerfield.edu or 413-774-1563.

The exclusive co-educational academy, founded in 1797, enrolls about 630 students in grades 9 through 12, most of them boarding students.

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